Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How Farm Aid responded to the 2009 drought in Texas

JoelAs we move into 2010 humbled by the massive earthquake in Haiti, Farm Aid remains committed to responding to domestic natural disasters with the goal of helping family farmers see through the worst and return to health and viability.

For example, in 2009, thanks to an extremely generous gift from an individual donor, Farm Aid initiated a two-part disaster relief effort in Texas, where severe drought across large swaths of the state has damaged the land and plagued family farmers and ranchers for several years.

First, Farm Aid provided emergency grants totaling $29,500 to 59 Texas families in need. To accomplish this, we worked closely with four Texas-based organizations — Sustainable Food Center, Lutheran Social Services of the South, Texas Organic Farming and Gardening Association, and the Texas/Mexico Border Coalition — who put out the word through their networks, solicited emergency grant applications, identified farm and ranch families most in need, and delivered individual checks. One striking result of this effort was the diversity of grant recipients, ranging from conventional livestock ranchers to organic and sustainable produce farmers, and including 16 Hispanic families along the drought-afflicted border area.

The second part of our Texas drought relief work reaches into 2010 and moves beyond immediate emergency relief to how producers can mitigate the worst effects of prolonged drought. Toward this end, in late 2009 Farm Aid awarded a drought mitigation grant of $30,000 to Holistic Management International - Texas (HMI Texas) to address the health and healing of drought damaged lands in Texas and the financial success of those who manage them. HMI-Texas will use the grant funds to expand the reach of their successful "Lands-on Learning" educational field days and workshops into the state’s most severely drought-affected areas, including South Texas, the Gulf Coast, and the Valley regions. The Farm Aid grant will be used in part to help ensure that low-income producers can afford to attend the trainings, and all those producers who received emergency drought assistance will be invited to take part. Please visit the HMI-Texas website to learn more about the HMI Texas holistic approach to renewing drought-damaged lands. I also suggest you check out the website of the Texas Drought Project.

Farmers know better than anyone that natural disaster can occur at any time, without warning. The recent two-week freeze across Florida, for instance, had farmers on edge and damage assessment is ongoing. Keep us posted on what’s happening in your region at 1-800-FARM-AID or farmhelp@farmaid.org, or make use of our online Farmer Resource Network at www.farmaid.org/ideas to locate our cooperating farm support organizations in your area.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Farm Aid and America's family farmers stand with the people of Haiti.

A message from Willie Nelson:

Farm Aid and America's family farmers stand with the people of Haiti.

The destruction and devastation caused by the recent earthquake in Haiti moves all of us to do whatever we can to help.

Farm Aid was born out of the belief that there's always something we can do—there's always a way to reach out, there’s always a way to lend a hand.

In that same spirit, we want to give our support to the people of Haiti. As you have supported family farmers so generously for 25 years, we hope you will reach out and help the people of Haiti now.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Farm Aid 2009 Airs on DIRECTV

JenDIRECTV will premiere FARM AID PRESENTS JASON MRAZ & FRIENDS on Monday, January 18, 2010 at 9:00 PM ET & PT. The special features a full, exciting set by Jason Mraz, as well as performances by Farm Aid board members Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp, along with songs by Will Dailey. FARM AID PRESENTS JASON MRAZ & FRIENDS will air in high definition and surround sound on The 101 Network, only on DIRECTV.

Subsequent broadcasts of FARM AID PRESENTS JASON MRAZ & FRIENDS on The 101 Network are scheduled as follows:

1/19/10 - 8:00 AM & 6:00 PM
1/21/10 - 7:00 AM & 11:00 AM & 2:00 AM
1/23/10 - 10:00 AM & 8:00 PM & 11:00 AM
1/24/10 - 11:00 AM & 2:00 PM
1/25/10 - 8:00 AM
1/27/10 - 5:00 PM
1/29/10 - 7:00 AM
1/31/10 - 10:00 AM & 1:00 PM
2/01/10 - 8:00 PM
2/06/10 - 8:00 AM
2/10/10 - 8:00 AM
2/14/10 - 4:00 AM

Please note that all times are ET and the schedule is subject to change.

FARM AID PRESENTS JASON MRAZ & FRIENDS is the first of four 1-hour specials from the Farm Aid 2009 broadcast that aired live on DIRECTV's The 101 Network in October 2009. These four 1-hour "Farm Aid Presents" specials will be airing on The 101 Network on DIRECTV over the next several months. "Farm Aid 2009" and the "Farm Aid Presents" specials were produced by Ambassador Entertainment Inc.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Update on What’s Happening in Dairy

JenThere are a couple of recent developments in the dairy crisis to update you about.

Back in October 2009, Congress approved $350 million in emergency funding for dairy farmers. $60 million was to be used to purchase excess dairy products for use in federal nutrition programs to help even out the market and drive the price of raw milk up from the abysmal lows farmers received throughout 2009. The remaining $290 million was to be used to directly assist dairy farmers. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack promised, "We'll do everything we possibly can to move it out to the countryside as quickly as we can." On December 17, 2009, Secretary Vilsack made good on that promise when the USDA announced that the $290 was to be distributed immediately through the Dairy Economic Loss Assistance Program (DELAP).

As the USDA explains, eligible producers will receive a one-time direct payment based on the amount of milk both produced and commercially marketed by their operation during the months of February through July 2009. Production information from these months will be used to estimate a full year's production to calculate the payments.

We're hearing from dairy farmers who have received their payment. While they're thankful for the assistance, by no means does it cover the losses they suffered in 2009, when the price of milk never even came near the high cost of production that farmers faced. If you're a dairy farmer and have not received your payment yet, check with your local Farm Service Agency (FSA) county office or go to www.fsa.usda.gov.

Going into 2010, production costs have decreased and the outlook for milk prices looks better. In spite of the rising price farmers receive for milk, those dairy farmers who have survived this far will have a tough go of it — already we're hearing from farmers on our hotline who have been denied credit for the upcoming year. Without credit, many farmers will be unable to plant their feed crops or purchase feed for their animals, upgrade or maintain equipment, or cover the daily expenses of farming.

In order to better understand the dairy industry, the USDA has announced the formation of a Dairy Industry Advisory Committee. Over two years, the 17-member committee will review the issues of farm milk price volatility, dairy farmer profitability, consolidation, and fair prices and offer suggestions on how the USDA can best address the needs of a struggling dairy industry. The committee is made up of farmers, academics, industry representatives and consumers. Two folks from Farm Aid-funded organizations were nominated: Ed Maltby of Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance and James Goodman of Family Farm Defenders. The committee will hold its first meeting in early 2010 and it will be open to the public. When we have more information, we'll let you know, so that you may participate.

Finally, and on a lighter note (well, lighter in subject matter, not butterfat!), check out this butter sculpture from the Pennsylvania Farm Show. The sculpture pays tribute to the value that family dairy farmers bring to our tables. Moo-tiful!